Fruit ripening using calcium carbide and other method

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Another practice is that some farmers dip unripe mature fruits in 0.1 per cent ethrel solution (1 ml of ethrel solution in 1 litre of water) and wipe it dry. The fruits are then spread over a newspaper without touching each other and a thin cotton cloth is covered over this. In this method, the fruits will ripen within two
days.
 In one of the simple and harmless techniques, 10 ml of ethrel and 2 gm of sodium hydroxide pellets are mixed in five litres of water taken in a wide mouthed vessel.

This vessel is placed inside the ripening chamber near the fruits and the room is sealed air tight. About a third of the room is filled with fruits leaving the remaining area for air circulation. Ripening of fruits takes place in about 12 to 24 hours. In order to reduce the cost of chemical, some ethylene releasing fruits such as papaya and banana can also kept in the same room.

 Ethylene gas filled in pressurized cans promote fruit ripening in 24-48 hours

Most climacteric fruits in India are ripened with industrial grade calcium carbide. Industrial-grade calcium carbide usually contains traces of arsenic and phosphorus, and, thus, use of this chemical for this purpose is illegal in most countries. In India too, use of calcium carbide is strictly banned as per PoFA (Prevention of Food Adultration) Act
[Section 44AA].

Calcium carbide, once dissolved in water, produces acetylene which acts as an artificial ripening agent. Acetylene is believed to affect the nervous system by reducing oxygen supply to brain. Arsenic and phophorus are toxic and exposure may cause severe health hazards.

Methods of applying ethrel

Method selected for applying ethylene depends on cost, convenience and safety factors. Use of diluted ethylene gas mixtures is safer than using pure ethylene, which is explosive and flammable at concentrations of 3% or higher.

Fruit to be ripened ideally is placed in an airtight ripening room maintained at a constant temperature (18-21oC for most fruits, but 29-31oC in mango). Optimum storage and ripening temperatures for a few fruits are given below.

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